Bernard Kops Dies/Poetry Donation To Cambridge University – Poetry News Roundup February 26th

We begin the week with an article about the death of the poet Bernard Kops. We also take a look at a collection of poetry donated to Cambridge University Library.

Bernard Kops, Poet and Playwright Dies Aged 97

The playwright/poet Bernard Kops has died at the age of 197. He was surrounded by his loved ones including his wife, Erica.

During his lengthy career, he successfully published many plays, and a significant number of poetry anthologies and novels. He was inspired to explore themes which included life in the East End of London and also the Jewish community who live there.

Kops was born in 1926 in London’s East end to Dutch and Jewish parents. He decided to leave school as a teenager, and in 1957 he came onto the theatre scene with “The Hamlet Of Stepney Green,” his first play. The story portrayed a community who were working-class and looked at how an adult son and his ill father related. The play was lauded as contributing to what was termed t“kitchen-sink” style of drama. It has since been performed all over the world.

His other plays include “Playing Sinatra,” which was written in 1991. This was a drama with a psychological slant, again set in London. The storyline followed a pair of grown-up siblings; a sister and brother who got to live out their fantasies through the music of Sinatra, their favourite star.

He also penned “Ezra,” a surrealist drama based on the life of Ezra Pound the American poet.

Other themes that also appeared in much of his work included the Holocaust, and the love he had for his wife and family.

In his later years, the poet co-hosted a writers workshop with Tom Fry the playwright.

He was considered to be the last of the Jewish writers who came to prominence in the 1950s alongside the likes of Wesker and Pinter.

In 2010, he published a collection of poetry, which included “Shalom Bomb,” one of his most famous works. This poem became something of an anthem for those campaigning for Nuclear Disarmament. The first lines of the poem are as follows:
poem The first lines from another piece “Whitechapel Library/Aldgate East” make up an inscription on one of the windows of the Whitechapel Art Gallery.

His publisher described him as a warm, witty, dark yet celebratory writer. His work was brimming with love for his family, lyric rages and funny stories about those individuals he met in life like fellow poet Allen Ginsberg – an encounter with whom he crafted into a poem.

Bernard Kops is survived by his wife Erica and their four children; one son and three daughters.

Cambridge University Receives Poetry Donation

A significant collection of memorabilia and posters from the project “Poems On The Underground” has been donated to the Library at Cambridge University.

The scheme, which saw posters being displayed across the Tube network with lines from some of the literary greats started in 1986. Amongst the items which have been donated is a letter from the late Philip Larkin, who died before he could see some of his own words on display as part of the project. There is also a letter from Seamus Heaney in which he says that he hopes the project is a success.

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